The Hazel Wright Organ

The Hazel Wright organ is one of the largest pipe organs in the world. It was made possible by significant donations from Mrs. Hazel Wright, a regular viewer of Robert Schuller’s weekly television program “Hour of Power”. The organ was built by Fratelli Ruffatti on a design by Virgil Fox, using the 100-rank Aeolian Skinner organ from Philarmonic Hall in New York City and the 97-rank Ruffatti organ installed in 1977 into the Neutra Sanctuary of the Garden Grove Community Church, the predecessor congregation of the Crystal Cathedal Church. Ruffatti also added 29 ranks to the organ at that time. The instrument was dedicated in 1982 and was enlarged during the 16-year tenure of the Crystal Cathedral’s world-renowned organist emeritus, Frederick Swann. The organ currently comprises 270 ranks over fourteen divisions, and has more than 16,000 pipes. The console has five manuals.

The Crystal Cathedral was completed in 1981. The design by American architect Philip Johnson incorporated more than 10,000 rectangular panes of reflective glass. For more than thirty years, it was the main worship space for the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, founded by Robert Schuller. Sale of the building to the Diocese of Orange was finalized on February 3, 2012. The worship space is being renovated to accommodate the Roman Catholic liturgy.

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Bishop Kevin William Vann, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, went to Padova to tour the Ruffatti factory and see the inner workings of our style of organbuilding. He met with Francesco and Piero Ruffatti in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padova, Italy, to sign the contract for the restoration of the Ruffatti organ at the new Christ Cathedral, formerly the Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove, California.  Piero and Francesco Ruffatti with Bishop Kevin William Vann in the Basilica of Saint Anthony, where the restoration contract was signed.  Posted by the Diocese of Orange, December 18, 2013.

Bishop Vann in Padua, Italy signing the contract for the restoration of the Hazel Wright Organ.


Bishop Kevin William Vann tours the Ruffatti factory with Piero and Francesco Ruffatti


Christ Cathedral's first Music Director, Dr. John A Romeri, tours the Ruffatti factory during Hazel's restoration, January 2016.


Robert and Arvella Schuller visit the Ruffatti factory in 1973 to see the 97-rank Ruffatti organ being built for the Garden Grove Community Church.
Right: with Antonio and Francesco Ruffatti. Left: with Francesco Ruffatti


A Video as they prepare for the beginning of the restoration.  The Hazel Wright organ within the former Crystal Cathedral is dismantled, packed for transport to Ital for a complete renuild, restoration and refitting within the Catholic space that will be called Christ Cathedral in 2016

The Hazel Wright organ within the former Crystal Cathedral is dismantled, packed for transport to Italy for a complete rebuild, restoration and refitting within the Catholic space that will be called Christ Cathedral.


Grammy-winning organist Paul Jacobs speaks about the necessity of restoring the Hazel Wright Organ in the Future Christ Cathedral, one of the largest and most recognizable organs in the world. After three decades of use and exposure to heat, sunlight and water damage, the organ is in need of a total restoration.

May 18, 2013 A public concert featuring internationally acclaimed Organist, Hector Olivera was held to benefit the restoration of the historic Hazel Wright Organ.


A 40-foot shipping container departed from the factory of December 16th, en route to Garden Grove, California. It was full of packing crates and packing material. A crew of five from the factory, headed by Piero Ruffatti, was joined by a local crew and local riggers in taking the organ apart. The crates were filled with pipes and other parts of the organ, to be returned to Italy for restoration. This part of the adventure took roughly five weeks.


Gallery Moller Console is being refurbished in Padua.


Photos from the construction review taken during meetings with Bishop Vann, Music Director Dr. Romeri, Piero Ruffatti, Robert Walker and the construction team on March 16, 2018.


Main console was brought into the cathedral on Monday and Tuesday, August 27 - 28, 2018.  Because of the weight of the console it was hoisted into the choir balcony early so the machine did not damage the new flooring once it is installed.


While a bit out of date, this is the latest book on the Hazel Wright Organ until a new one is published after its re-installation.

Here is this book in PDF form  THE ORGANS OF THE CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL.    A complete list of the stops for the Hazel Wright Organ and the Fred Swann Organ (Arboretum) are included in this booklet.


News Articles and Websites

 

Christ Cathedral Selects its First Director of Music Ministries

 

Hazel Wright Organ Restoration Project

 

“It Breathes the Sound of Faith”

By: Tom Berg, OC Register

 

The restoration as documented by Brian Sawyers, Organ Curator    http://www.razzody.com/pages/hazelwrigtht.html

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